CANNES — BBC Films has closed its co-financing pact for bigger-budget movies with Cobalt Media Group.
The three-year deal to make pics budgeted at more than $12 million involves a combined financial commitment of at least $150 million.
Cobalt (formerly MM Media Capital Partners), which will handle worldwide sales, will put up the majority of the coin. But BBC Films (working in tandem with commercial arm BBC Worldwide) will share 50% in the profits.
“This deal marks a major step in the development and growth of BBC Films into one of the preeminent players in international feature film production on favorable financial terms,” said Alan Yentob, the BBC’s director of film, drama and entertainment.
The pubcaster will take all U.K. rights to projects produced with Cobalt. That’s a departure from its traditional financing model of investing just for U.K. TV rights and an equity stake.
Cobalt, BBC Films and BBC Worldwide are contributing to a joint development fund. Pics primarily will be developed inhouse by BBC Films, but the joint venture is open to outside projects.
The non-exclusive deal is part of a move by BBC Films into larger-scale movies.
The pubcaster is not abandoning its commitment to low-budget pics, which it will continue to funnel through the Sales Co., in which it owns a 25% stake.
“We’re not saying that the future of the British film industry is only in bigger-budget films, because that’s clearly not true. But this is an opportunity to broaden our range,” said BBC Films chief David Thompson.
“It offers a chance for the talent in the U.K. to stay with us, rather than having to abandon us to move to Hollywood in order to make more ambitious films,” he added.
BBC Films already is involved in a number of more expensive movies with other distribs. It has three projects in the works with Intermedia — “Iris,” “Assumption of the Virgin” and “Mary, Queen of Scots” — and “Doctor Who” in development with Mutual.
Thompson said the emphasis of his development slate has shifted toward projects with a more international scope. As an example he cited “The Gap,” a thriller about a group of kids traveling in South America.